Preparing for chicks – notes
Preparing for chicks
There has been some talk on the internet, people looking for broody hens to hatch eggs. So here are some notes of things to think about.
• A broody hen will generally look after chicks when born.
• She will not be able to protect the chicks from the other birds, so they will need to be protected by separation from the flock. A broody hutch and run which is sheltered is important.
• A place indoors with a lamp for heat is a good idea especially if it is still spring, and you have an early broody.
• You will probably get a chick every now and again that is deformed and needs despatching.
• Are you ready for a lot of males? If you only hatch 6, it is not unusual to get 4 cocks. Are you prepared to despatch unwanted males, or swap or give them away, or grow them for food?
• Start chicks on chick crumb, you can buy medicated chick crumb but generally, for a few backyard hens in a well-run clean site it is not considered to be so important to vaccinate against Salmonella or Marek’s disease.
• Make sure the water is clean – they always poo in it! Put some pebbles in the container so they can’t drown in the water.
• If you decide to use an incubator:
Buy one with a kite mark, lots of stories about ones setting on fire or failing.
Don’t try to use a really old one, modern ones are much better.
The best eggs come from local sources – mailed eggs can sometimes be troublesome.
• Bringing in hens from outside your flock can sometimes introduce disease.
• At point of lay (22 weeks) give your birds an anti coccidiant treatment.